Category Archives: President’s Note

From the President

President’s column

Greetings, RUSA members! In my first column as President, I’d like to talk about some possible new directions for RUSA. But first, I want to acknowledge and thank all the committees, sections and members, as well as the RUSA staff, who contributed to the success of RUSA’s programs and events at the Annual Conference in San Francisco. We have much to be proud of. Among other events, we held the RUSA 101 session to educate new members about our organization, honored the recipients of RUSA awards at our Awards Ceremony, and celebrated great writing– while enjoying a talk by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar– at the Carnegie Medal celebration.   RUSA sections sponsored many stimulating programs and discussions, and 2014-2015 RUSA President Joe Thompson brought us an outstanding President’s Program featuring danah boyd. (See Joe’s recap below for more on that.)

So now that the conference is wrapped up and we’re all back at our “normal” jobs and lives, where do we go from here? I’d like to use this column to talk about a major new initiative for RUSA. One of our big tasks in the coming year will be to develop a proposal for the formation of Interest Groups within our association. What do we mean by an “interest group”? Interest groups can be defined in different ways, but the basic concept involves a group of members coming together around a current topic of common interest or concern. Enthusiasm for the idea of Interest Groups within RUSA was clearly expressed by members in responses to the survey done by the RUSA Review Task Force in 2014. The RUSA Review survey asked members this question:

We are considering a new kind of community within RUSA, called Interest Groups. These Groups would be RUSA-wide communities that are organized around popular, current topics, enabling members from across RUSA to connect with others who have shared interests. These groups can hold discussions, email forums, programs and other events. Some topics for Interest Groups may include but are not limited to: Marketing/Outreach, Programming, Library Spaces, and Usability. Are you in favor of adding Interest Groups?

Of the 395 RUSA members who responded to the question, 89 percent answered “yes.” Interest groups are obviously an intriguing idea. Why? An interest group model offers several advantages. Interest groups are formed at the grassroots level, and are relatively bureaucracy-free. They can be formed quickly in response to pressing needs which members may be encountering in their daily work. They offer an easy way for members to get involved. And they can evolve or be disbanded easily when no longer needed, so that members can move on to other Interest Groups or types of involvement.

The RUSA Review survey also asked members for their top choices for possible Interest Groups. In addition to some of the topics mentioned in the survey question–marketing, outreach, programming and space planning– other choices were readers’ advisory and assessment. Many other topics could be proposed, including more specific topics in response to current issues or questions.

In order to move the Interest Groups idea forward, we will need to create some structure with specifics for how Interest Groups should work within RUSA. The Organization & Planning Committee has been tasked with this work, starting with looking at how Interest Groups have been implemented in other ALA divisions. Key questions to be answered include:

  • How many members are needed to form an Interest Group? How do they go about forming the group?
  • Can non-RUSA members join a RUSA Interest Group?
  • Can Interest Groups sponsor programs and discussions at conference?
  • How much support from the RUSA office can Interest Groups request? Can they make budget requests?
  • How and to whom do Interest Groups report out?
  • How is leadership assured from year to year? How are leaders elected or appointed?
  • How would an Interest Group be disbanded and how would a decision to disband be made?

As the Organization & Planning Committee investigates these questions, they will work on wording defining Interest Groups to be placed in the RUSA Bylaws (which will require a vote of the membership in the 2016 election cycle) as well as additional details to be included in the RUSA Guide to Policies and Procedures. Please stay tuned for more details on these proposals over the coming months.

The formation of Interest Groups does have a potential downside: it will add further complexity to an already complex organization. Like many ALA divisions, RUSA is highly structured. It already comprises six sections and over 200 committees, including both RUSA-level and Section committees. So as we contemplate Interest Groups, we also need to decide what RUSA can do less of to make time and resources available for Interest Groups. We know that our members are becoming less interested in volunteering for administrative tasks, and more interested in volunteering to be a part of interesting projects and conversations. Along with implementing Interest Groups, can we also streamline and downsize our administrative work? This is a key question that we will have to answer.

I welcome your comments on these questions and proposed changes. Please feel free to contact me any time at

Anne Houston
RUSA President 2015-2016

President’s Note

Our RUSA Strategic Plan, July 2015 – June 2018

Please see the section directly below for information on the RUSA Strategic Plan.

Headline events for RUSA members at ALA Annual in San Francisco!

Planning your schedule for ALA Annual 2015? I find the official conference scheduler to be an invaluable tool, available at  For one thing you don’t need to worry about any time changes that might otherwise cause problems if you used your everyday electronic calendar.  You can also easily create your own personal appointments.  On your smart phone you can navigate to the mobile site and save a shortcut to your home screen. This essentially creates an app.  You then have access to your schedule wherever you go!

If you’ll be in San Francisco on Friday, June 26, 2015 you’ll want to take advantage of these special pre-conferences, with discounts still available to RUSA members.

Also on Friday we’ll be holding our annual RUSA 101 from 3:00 – 4:00 in the afternoon at the Westin St. Francis, Tower Salon A & B.  This is a fantastic opportunity for all conference attendees to learn about RUSA, connect with established members, and enjoy some free refreshments.  See Ann Brown and I have been hosting monthly RUSA 101 sessions online since last summer, and I know that we are both looking forward to seeing people in-person for this one!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

  • 1:00pm to 2:30pm
    RUSA Board of Directors Meeting #1
    Hilton San Francisco Union, Continental 2
    Visit this open meeting to learn about the work of our association!
  • 4:00pm to 5:30pm
    RUSA President’s Program featuring speaker danah boyd, – It’s Complicated: Navigating the dynamic landscapes of digital literacy, collapsing contexts, and big data
    danah is a prolific blogger and speaker with big ideas about how librarians can make a difference in the data deluge!
    Moscone Convention Center, 3014-3016 (W)
  • 8:00pm to 10:00pm
    The Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Announcement and Reception
    Hotel Nikko, Nikko Ballroom
    Join us for ALA’s only single-book award for adult fiction and nonfiction, followed by a chance to mingle at the dessert and drinks reception. I’m incredibly excited that we’ll get to meet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who is serving as our keynote speaker!  Tickets are $25 for RUSA Members, $35 for others.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

  • 8:00am to 10:00am
    Literary Tastes
    Moscone Convention Center, West Exhibit Hall, 1st Floor
    Hear from some of the year’s best authors and enjoy light refreshments. #literarytastes
  • 10:30am to 11:30am
    21st Annual Reference Research Forum
    Moscone Convention Center, 2014 (W)
    At this popular event you are able learn about notable research projects and meet the people who are changing the way that we think about the future of reference services.

Monday, June 29, 2015

  • 2:00pm to 4:00pm
    RUSA Board of Directors Meeting #2
    Moscone Convention Center, 200-212 (S)
    Visit this open meeting to learn about the work of our association!

Please make sure to use the scheduler to find all of the other great programs and discussions that have been organized by our RUSA sections!

Congratulations and THANK YOU to our elected officers

Serving in a leadership role for our association is a significant commitment of energy and for many of us is volunteer work accomplished on our own free time.  Please thank the following individuals for their dedication!  Their terms officially begin at the conclusion of the ALA Annual Conference 2015 in San Francisco.

Vice-President/President-Elect:  Anne Houston
Secretary:  Kate Oberg

Division Councilor:  Sarah J. Hammill
Director-at-Large:  Ed Garcia & Mary Mintz

Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect:  Louise Mort Feldmann
Member-at-Large:  Penny Scott

Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect:  Daniel C. Mack
Member-at-Large:  Emily Hamstra & Matthew J. Wayman

Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect:  Christina Thompson Shutt
Member-at-Large:  Melissa Finley Gonzalez
Secretary:  Jennifer Eileen McElroy

:  Courtney Greene McDonald
Member-at-Large:  Jason Coleman

Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect:  Amy Elizabeth Rustic
Member-at-Large:  Ellen Keith

Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect:  Heidi Nance
Member-at-Large:  Kerry Keegan

As this is my final column as RUSA President, I absolutely must take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all of our fantastic RUSA member volunteers across the association, as well as our dedicated RUSA staff:  Susan Hornung, Leighann Wood, Marianne Braverman, and Andrea Hill.  All of the webinars, courses, programs, discussions, articles, events, and awards only happen because of your great efforts.

It’s been a great privilege to serve you over this past year.


Joseph Thompson
RUSA President 2014-2015

Senior Administrator – Public Services
Harford County Public Library
1221-A Brass Mill Road
Belcamp, MD 21017

From the President

President’s column

Were you there in Chicago for the great ALA Midwinter blizzard of 2015? The Sunday of Midwinter was an event that few of us will forget. The snow blew sideways and it was recorded as one of the city’s top ten most intense snow storms! Through it all however, the relentless librarians forged on. We walked through swales of snow four feet deep. The cabs and shuttle buses even kept running. So, we hearty folk went on with our meetings, discussions, and awards events. Our RUSA membership demonstrated their dedication and the overall experience was awesome.

Strategic Planning Update

Before the storm, those of us on RUSA Board began ALA Midwinter 2015 with a full-day strategic planning session on Friday. This was the first time (in recent memory) that we had allocated this much time to focus on the future direction of the association. Our session was facilitated by Paul Meyer of Tecker International Consulting.

Paul began the day by helping us understand the process for planning, and how to think strategically in order to make progress toward an envisioned future. In our first activity we broke into five groups to do an environmental scan of our member libraries and the larger world that we’re operating. Each group identified current conditions, trends, and assumptions about the future. This next led to work defining our Core Purpose – the organization’s reason for being – and our Core Organizational Values – those essential and enduring principles that guide the behavior of an organization. By the end of this activity we agreed upon the Core Purpose (a.k.a. Mission) statement: “RUSA is a member community engaged in advancing the practices of connecting people to resources, information services, and collections.” This activity also led us to develop the following three Core Organizational Values statements:

  • We believe in the benefits of a shared experiences that comes from connecting members from all types of libraries
  • We believe in promoting excellence in library services and resources
  • We believe in innovation to support and advance to the needs of our members and communities

It is possible that this language could change as RUSA’s Strategic Plan Coordinating Task Force and the Board continues its work, but this should give you a good sense of the priority values that were identified at this early stage. The final hours of the day were dedicated to starting the process of developing Goals and Objectives that will move RUSA toward its envisioned future. Flexibility, Member Engagement, Leadership Development, and Training came forward as priorities as we began to develop the Goals. Some rough Objective statements were also developed. By the end of the day the broad feeling in the room was one of great accomplishment, and the effort that had been put forth showed on almost every face in the room. It was indeed a tiring but productive day!

As of this writing in early March, the Strategic Plan Coordinating Task Force has met three times by telephone conference since returning from Midwinter to continue the work. Chaired by Anne Houston, the task force has reviewed what we accomplished in Chicago and is incorporating member priorities that were identified in the RUSA Review Task Force survey of summer 2014. The next step is to clean-up and revise the draft Goals and Objectives that came out of the planning meeting. Two goal areas that we have identified are the need for RUSA to have a flexible structure and the need for membership in RUSA to have clear measurable values. We anticipate having a revised draft plan for review by the RUSA Board before the end of March. I very much want to thank Anne for her leadership through this process, as well as RUSA Secretary Erin Rushton, who is serving above and beyond by taking comprehensive notes at each of our strategic planning meetings. The demand on her time is much more than could be expected during a normal year for a RUSA Secretary, and we appreciate all of the efforts she is putting forward. Our process is still on track to have a new RUSA Strategic Plan in place before ALA Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

ALA Midwinter 2015 Wrap-Up

Did I earlier mention awards? Yes, I’m specifically referring to the RUSA Book and Media Awards Ceremony. At the height of the snowstorm and while many across the country watched

the Superbowl, about one hundred of us came together at the Hilton Chicago to recognize the best in adult fiction, nonfiction, reference, book reviewing, and websites. This year we also tried

something new. We were very happy to have highly acclaimed Chicago author Margaret Hawkins kick-off the event by sharing some of her thoughts about the craft of writing, including insight into why she has set some of her scenes in libraries. The event then went on without a hitch. For a comprehensive list of the selections, including the Notable Books, Reading List, Listen List, and the Best Free Reference Web Sites, see Also, catch up on what attendees and others have been saying by following the hashtag #literarytastes.

I do have one more item to share about RUSA Awards. Though January 2016 might seem far in the future, I want to give you the early news that we will have even more to celebrate while we’re in Boston for ALA Midwinter next year. Not only will we announce all of our Book and Media Awards, but we will be announcing the winners of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Fiction and Nonfiction while in Boston as well! Be on the lookout later this year for news about what may evolve into a combined event at Midwinter 2016 and how it is shaping up. We have a rare crossover in place right now, as the members of both the 2015 and 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal Award committees are currently at work reading and preparing to make their selections! The 2015 Andrea Carnegie Medals winners will be announced during ALA Annual 2015 in San Francisco.

Among other noteworthy events at Midwinter in Chicago included the first ever RUSA Speed Mentoring Session, organized by our Leadership Development Task Force. Many thanks go to Gary White for serving as the event’s lead organizer, and to Diane Zabel for opening the session with words of experience regarding the importance of mentoring. About fifteen mentees attended, with more than that number of mentors available to pair-up. Immediately following this session we walked down the hall to the RUSA Membership Social, which received an excellent turnout of both new and familiar faces. The Social again served as a great informal opportunity to talk to others about our work in RUSA. I want to especially thank Ann Brown of the RUSA Membership Committee for serving as emcee for the event.

2015 RUSA President’s Program Planning Committee and the RUSA Just Ask Task Force joined forces in Chicago to host a discussion about some of the themes in danah boyd’s book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (available for free download at One of our key discussions involved the collapsing of contexts, specifically relating to the modern reality that an online post made by an individual in one place might take on a very different meaning when interpreted in another. It was a dynamic discussion and we truly could have used more time than the hour that had been allocated!   I want to thank Peter Bromberg for organizing the discussion and Cathay Keough for taking notes and posting these on our Facebook event page. You can find these at

Are you planning your schedule for ALA Annual 2015 in San Francisco? The RUSA President’s Program with danah boyd, It’s Complicated: Navigating the dynamic landscapes of digital literacy, collapsing contexts, and big data” will take place on Saturday, June 27, 2015 from 4:00 to 5:30. If you haven’t read danah’s work before, you can learn more by taking a look at her blog, where she focuses on the intersection between technology and society at danah is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and is a 2008 PhD graduate of the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of California-Berkeley.

Great learning opportunities abound – at conferences and online!

Remember that RUSA’s opportunities for learning are available year-round online. Our upcoming online courses include the ever-popular Business Reference 101, Genealogy 101, and Health Information 101. Xtreme Bibliographic Searching for Interlibrary Loan & Reference as well as Introduction to Spatial Literacy and Online Mapping with both be offered this spring. Make sure to find these courses and our upcoming and archived webinars at

If you are new to RUSA please also be aware that Ann Brown and I are continuing to offer free RUSA 101 webinars (orientations to all things RUSA) normally on the second Thursday of each month at 4:00 pm ET / 3 pm CT. We are also offering a free RUSA 201 webinar on the third Thursday of each month at 4:00 pm ET / 3 pm CT. The topic of each RUSA 201 is geared to current members and addresses how to get the work of the association accomplished. For the January and February sessions we had Don Boozer, chair of RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee, address how to propose a RUSA conference program, preconference, or institute for Boston or Orlando in 2016. Topics for upcoming RUSA 201 sessions will be announced on the rusa-l listserv.


Are you looking to get involved in RUSA this year? Now is the time! RUSA’s Vice President/President Elect Liane Taylor and the RUSA Section Vice Chairs are appointing people to committees now, with terms to officially begin on July 1, 2015. If you are interested in joining a committee, go to and select the link in the upper right, “Volunteer for a RUSA or section level committee.” If you’re not sure which committee is right for you, send Liane an email at to let her know your interests. If it’s actually a BRASS, CODES, History, MARS, RSS, or STARS section-level committee you’re interested, she can put you in touch with the right person there.

I want to take this opportunity to again thank all of our fantastic RUSA member volunteers across the association, with special thanks to everyone working in the BRASS, CODES, History, MARS, RSS, and STARS committees who are putting together great programming, developing discussions, reviewing materials, selecting awards, and working on other initiatives that provide our members a valuable RUSA experience. We each have many competing priorities in our lives and you cannot be thanked enough for your time and dedication to our work.

With great appreciation,


Joseph Thompson
RUSA President 2014-2015

From the President

President’s column

To begin this issue of RUSA Update, I’d like to highlight some of the not-to-be-missed events that will be taking place at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago. Whether you are a new member or you have been involved in RUSA for many years, these events are sure to peak your curiosity and engage your interests.

ALA Midwinter Events

[Free!] Genealogy Institute: Meeting the Needs of Your Family History Patrons:
Friday, January 30, 2015 – 8:30am to 4:00pm; Enjoy an interactive day of learning and networking for all librarians serving genealogists. Leaders from the library and genealogical industry will cover a variety of topics, including strategic planning, partnerships, and serving diverse populations. Luncheon provided by our sponsor, ProQuest. Registration is free, but required. Limit 150 participants. Find the link to register at

RUSA President’s Program Discussion Forum:
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 10:30am to 11:30am; Get a preview of the 2015 RUSA President’s Program by taking part in a thoughtful discussion about the themes in danah boyd’s book, It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (available for free download at We’ll discuss implications on privacy, information seeking behaviors, and library service of the future. Even if you haven’t read the book, feel free to join us for what is sure to be a wide ranging discussion on how libraries can best serve teens. This discussion is organized by the 2015 RUSA President’s Program Planning Committee and the RUSA Just Ask Task Force.

We are very excited to be able to announce that danah boyd will be our 2015 RUSA President’s Program speaker at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco! danah boyd is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and is a 2008 PhD graduate of the School of Information (iSchool) at the University of California-Berkeley. Her research focuses on the intersection between technology and society and she blogs at Mark your calendars now – the RUSA President’s Program will take place on Saturday, June 27, 2015 from 4:00 to 5:30 pm.

RUSA Leadership Development and Speed Mentoring Session:
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 3:30pm to 5:30pm; Join a group of experienced RUSA leaders and engage in a fun, interactive “speed mentoring” session. Similar in format to “speed dating”, MLS students, new librarians, and mid-career librarians are invited to participate in this session where they will have the opportunity to gain leadership advice from a number of senior librarians and RUSA leaders.

RUSA Membership Social:
Saturday, January 31, 2015 – 5:30pm to 7:00pm; Kick off the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting in style with the Reference and User Services Association’s (RUSA) Membership Social—an opportunity to eat, drink, network, win door prizes and learn more about RUSA. The social is open to all ALA Midwinter attendees! RUSA members are encouraged to bring their friends and anyone interested in learning more about the association and networking with peers. All attendees will have the opportunity to win fantastic door prizes!

Book & Media Awards Ceremony and Reception:
Sunday, February 1, 2015 – 5:00pm to 6:30pm; The highly acclaimed Chicago author, Margaret Hawkins will be our feature speaker and kick off our premier awards event for adult reading and reference. We’ll unveil the winners of The Reading List, Listen List selections—lists that are used by readers advisory librarians nationwide, Notable Books, which forms the basis for the Carnegie Medals Longlist —as well as the winners of the Dartmouth Medal for reference, the Sophie Brody Medal for Jewish literature, the Zora Neale Hurston Award for achievement in promoting African-American literature and the Louis Shores Award for book reviewing. All ALA Midwinter Meeting participants are invited to this celebration on-site in Chicago. Can’t attend? For the most up-to-date announcements, follow the event on Facebook and track it on Twitter with hashtag #literarytastes.

Discussion Forums/Discussion Groups:
The RUSA Sections (BRASS, CODES, History, MARS, RSS, and STARS) are organizing open discussions on a number of timely and relevant topics. All registered ALA Midwinter attendees are encouraged to drop in, listen, learn, and contribute. These include Hot Topics: Augmented Reality, the Genealogy and Local History Discussion Group, the Future of Reference Education for Librarians, and STARS Hot Topics – to name a few.


Keep in mind that except for meetings involving awards or nominations, most other meetings are open, meaning that anyone registered for ALA Midwinter may attend. Visiting a meeting can often be a great way to learn about the work being done in a certain area and meetings of some groups may allow you to demonstrate your own interest in a topic. The RUSA Board will be holding two open meetings at Midwinter, on Saturday, January 31 from 1:30 – 3:30 pm and on Monday, February 2 from 2:00-4:00 pm.

Online Courses – attend where you are!
More and more of our members are taking advantage of our online learning opportunities. Make sure to check out RUSA’s great selection of continuing education courses that will be offered over winter/spring 2015. These include the ever-popular Business Reference 101, Genealogy 101, Readers Advisory 101, Xtreme Bibliographic Searching for Interlibrary Loan & Reference, Introduction to Spatial Literacy and Online Mapping, and – available for the first time – Introduction to Economic Data on the Web. Find these courses and our upcoming and archived webinars at

Checking in on Strategic Planning
On September 15, 2014 the RUSA Review Task Force completed its work through the release of a final report, which can be found on ALA Connect at This was a vast project that took a great deal of coordination along the way. Credit for the success of the project goes to all of the members of the task force, but most significantly to co-chairs Chris LeBeau and Diane Zabel. The report now serves to highlight the key challenges and opportunities that RUSA faces as it strives to be a responsive and sustainable organization. It is now one of the primary research documents that is informing our Strategic Planning Process.

RUSA has contracted with Paul D. Meyer, President and Co-CEO of Tecker International, LLC to provide strategic planning coordinating and facilitation services. Paul has worked with large, complex and multi-system organizations as well as small community-based institutions, corporations, and nonprofits representing a variety of industries and professions. He has previously consulting services to several ALA divisions, including ACRL, ALSC, PLA, and YALSA. The members of the RUSA Strategic Plan Coordinating Task Force met with Paul for a Process Design session on October 25. The task force is now gathering and reviewing secondary research in advance of the creation of a new survey questionnaire that will be distributed electronically to the RUSA membership. The task force will then create draft core purpose and core value statements for review by the full RUSA Board. On Friday, January 30th, 2015 the full\ RUSA Board will participate in a day-long facilitated strategic planning discussion at ALA Midwinter in Chicago. This timeline will allow us to complete a new plan before the ALA Annual Conference 2015 in San Francisco.

That’s a brief summary to a substantial project for RUSA!

Best wishes to all of our RUSA members and may you have a wonderful winter!


Joseph Thompson
RUSA President 2014-2015

Senior Administrator – Public Services
Harford County Public Library
1221-A Brass Mill Road
Belcamp, MD 21017

From the President

Annual Conference 2014 Wrap Up and a Look Ahead

Although some of us may have gone in with concerns or even trepidation about what an ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas might turn out to be like, many of us found the conference content and overall experience to be on par with the best. I’d like to begin this RUSA Update with a review of some of my stand-out experiences at ALA Annual 2014. I’ll then turn to the future, with a look ahead at online learning being offered by RUSA this fall and a review of some activities going on right now that will take us into RUSA’s next strategic planning process.

Before going any further I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Elizabeth Stephan for serving RUSA as the RUSA Update Editor for over 5 years. Elizabeth was responsible for moving this newsletter, RUSA Update, to a completely electronic publishing platform and for positioning RUSA Update to serve as a major online service to RUSA members. With this issue we welcome Carol Schuetz as our new RUSA Update Editor. Carol comes to us after previously serving as the editor and production editor of the Library Instruction Round Table (LIRT) Newsletter and most recently as the editor of BRASS Notes.   We appreciate her now sharing her skills with us at RUSA Update. Welcome, Carol!

I also want to thank our over 900 volunteer members who serve as chairs and members on all of our committees at the section and division levels. Every member who prepares agendas, takes minutes, participates in discussions, and responds to emails with ideas is directly responsible for the success of the division. We are all pulled in many directions by a plethora of commitments, but our member volunteers each find a way to make an individual contribution that benefits us and the larger profession. Among our volunteer members I absolutely must recognize are my immediate predecessors, Kathleen Kern and Mary Popp, who have responsibly guided RUSA and contributed innumerable hours in support for the association and our members. I’m especially grateful to our past presidents for their time, dedication, and for always caring about doing the best job possible. Thank you.

Annual Conference 2014 Wrap Up

It is very hot in Las Vegas, that’s true. Once you’re indoors, it can be confusing to navigate through the smoky seas of slot machines on your way to a meeting. That said, those will be the memories that I know I will selectively forget. What I won’t forget are the people, the programs, and the RUSA events. In this issue of RUSA Update you will see reports from many of our division and section committees on their activities. Though I wish I could have attended them all, here I’m only going to focus on those that I was lucky enough to attend.

I’d like to first highlight some of the important social opportunities – those places where people interested in joining the division have the chance to informally connect with established members. The first notable event was Friday afternoon’s RUSA 101. We welcomed over 100 people who wanted to know more about RUSA. Each of our six sections had representatives stationed around the perimeter of the room and were able to make personal connections. I want to especially thank RUSA Membership co-chairs Ann Brown and Alicia Ahlvers, as well as Marianne Braverman and Leighann Wood from the RUSA office for pulling the event together. One highlight for me was getting to meet four reference librarians from Nigeria who came to ALA specifically to attend our RUSA events and programs!

Did you know that the STARS section is now 10 years old? The members planned a great celebration and networking event at the local Bahama Breeze on Friday evening. It was a blast getting to talk with people that I’d served with previously on committees and meet new people. Almost all of the STARS chairs — past, present, and future– were in attendance able to be photographed together.

Saturday offered multiple opportunities for making connections with RUSA colleagues. Bright and early were the RSS Open House and All-Committee meeting, where I was able to meet with my RSS colleagues, including members of the Young Adult Reference Services Committee (“YARS!” – say it like it’s “Talk-Like-a-Pirate Day”). YARS is our first joint committee with YALSA. The members are already doing great work delivering programs and discussions that delve into the methods we use to connect young adults with reference services. On Saturday evening MARS offered their signature social event, the MARS Happy Hour. I really want to commend the organizers of this long and successful series. It was another great opportunity to connect with fellow “MARStians.” BRASS, CODES, and History also held great networking events, but I’m sorry I missed them this time around. There’s always Midwinter and Annual next year! In addition to being a lot of fun, one thing that all of these social events have in common is that they provide our members who attend conference excellent opportunities to talk informally about their work in RUSA, to share personal experiences across library types, and make connections that could lead to the next career advancement.

Among the headline RUSA events was Kathleen Kern’s RUSA President’s Program, Our Values, Ourselves: Examining Our Values and What Others Value About Us. The “Waynes” (Wayne Bivens-Tatum and Wayne Wiegand), Lisa Carlucci Thomas, and Jeanne Goodrich each provided personal reflections on the development of the modern library service structure and influence of past precedents on libraries today.

RUSA again offered great opportunities to meet authors and hear from them directly. Held on Saturday evening, this was the third year for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction and also the third year that Nancy Pearl chaired the selection committee. You can find out more about the 2014 winning titles Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism at I’m now on page 45 of The Bully Pulpit and making steady progress! Though this was Nancy’s last year as chair, the 2015 award committee is in great hands for the coming year. It will be chaired by Brad Hooper of ALA Booklist and has a membership representing both RUSA and Booklist. Then, on Sunday morning, I saw some of the same people from the night before at the Literary Tastes Author Program: Celebrating the Best Reading of the Year. Though I ran late from a very early morning meeting I was able to slip into the back of the room to hear two out of three of our authors speak. You can find out more about their books at

On Sunday afternoon we held our annual RUSA Awards Reception, where we were able to honor the achievements of our colleagues who have excelled in the field of reference and user services. See the RUSA Blog at for details about those who were recognized.

The RUSA Board met twice, on Saturday and Monday afternoons. Key accomplishments included the passage of the FY2015 operating budget and reserve fund proposal as recommended by RUSA’s Budget and Finance Committee. The allocations from the reserve fund will allow RUSA to continue its efforts related to member recruitment and retention, which includes funding for a high-profile speaker at the 2015 Annual Conference, growing the Just Ask campaign, and contracting for strategic planning consulting services. Approved expenditures also provide support for History section’s visit to Angel Island on the Friday of Annual Conference 2015 in San Francisco. RUSA members will be able to learn about the island’s role as the Ellis Island of the west. The Board also approved the slate of 2015 RUSA programs for San Francisco as presented by the RUSA Conference Program Coordinating Committee.

A Look Ahead

Our RUSA Committees are now at work making plans for the 2014-2015 year. I’d like to first recognize the members of the RUSA Professional Development Committee for reviewing proposals and coordinating the process for approving our slate of fall 2014 online courses. You can find these at Over at the RUSA Membership Committee, they will be involved in supporting RUSA’s member recruitment efforts through monthly RUSA 101 orientation webinars and by connecting our sponsored student members with experienced RUSA members who will be available to serve as mentors.

Our current RUSA strategic plan will come to a conclusion in June 2015. Therefore, the upcoming year will offer us a great opportunity to reflect and define how we will move forward providing our members the experience that they desire. A key focus for us will be on the value proposition for our members. Over the long term, what are those experiences that RUSA offers our members that make each person want to continue as a member? Equally important, what are those experiences that encourage new members to join? How can we show that nobody else can provide this same value proposition?

Important member data that will help to inform the strategic planning process is being compiled through the work of the RUSA Review Task Force. I especially want to thank the co-chairs Chris LeBeau and Diane Zabel for their leadership and for preparing a preliminary report for the RUSA Board for the ALA Annual Conference 2014. Their work continues through an online survey. From mid-June through late July the RUSA Review: Summer 2014 Survey of our Members was posted with 406 members completing the survey. The Task Force members are currently reviewing the results.

The next steps for strategic planning are to bring together members of RUSA Board and RUSA Organization and Planning Committee to create a Strategic Planning Coordinating Task Force. The group will work with the RUSA office staff to contract for strategic planning consulting services. In addition to using the data that has already been gathered, we are tentatively planning on using the face-to-face opportunity that ALA Midwinter 2015 in Chicago will offer for a facilitated discussion with the members of the RUSA Board. A targeted online survey of all RUSA members during the process will provide us with additional information about what our members desire from their RUSA experience. This timeline will allow us to complete a new plan before the ALA Annual Conference 2015 in San Francisco.

What’s next? If you are able to attend both ALA Midwinter 2015 in Chicago and ALA Annual 2015 in San Francisco, you’ll want to mark your calendar for September 9th when bundled registration for both conferences opens. See Regular registration for the ALA Midwinter Meeting opens on October 1. What does RUSA offer at ALA Midwinter you may ask? Though we don’t offer formal programs, we do provide attendees many opportunities to network and share ideas through the RUSA Social, RUSA Book and Media Awards, and Discussion Forums organized by the RUSA sections.

Best wishes to all of our RUSA members for a fantastic fall!


Joseph Thompson
RUSA President 2014-2015

President’s Note

In case you haven’t seen the RUSA election results, they are here. Congratulations to the newly elected RUSA Vice-President/President-Elect Liane Taylor and RUSA Directors-At-Large Danise G. Hoover and Stephanie Atkins Sharpe. Thank you to the Nominating Committees and everyone who stepped up to run for elected offices within RUSA and the Sections. RUSA is a member-driven organization and you are what make RUSA work!

RUSA is about a lot more than just in-person conferences, but at this time of year a lot of our focus is on the upcoming ALA Annual Conference. There are a lot of RUSA activities happening in Las Vegas from programing to discussion groups to awards and to opportunities for fun with other RUSA librarians. A lot of that is detailed in the information from the sections below in RUSA News and in the Section Reports  and on the RUSA Annual Events page, so I’ll highlight some of the events at the RUSA level.

RUSA 101: Friday, June 27, 3:00-4:00 PM. The place to start if you want to learn more about RUSA, our sections, or get help figuring out the best things to attend at a packed conference. There will raffle prizes!

RUSA President’s Program: Saturday, June 28, 4:00-5:30 PM. Our Values, Ourselves: Examining Our Values and What Others Value about Us. Are our own values and self-perceptions interfering with providing services that our patron communities both need and want? Are we on the right track or off the rails? Join us this thought-provoking session that will cover the past and the future, public and academic libraries, and feature speakers with a range of perspectives. The co-chairs of the RUSA President’s Program, Liane Taylor and Paul A. Sharpe, along with the hard-working members of the committee, Alicia Finley, Elizabeth A. Kocevar-Weidinger and Sydney Leigh McCoy, have planned a wonderful set of programs for Las Vegas.

Carnegie Award for Fiction and Non-Fiction: Saturday, June 28, 8:00-10:00 PM This is the third year for the Carnegie Award and this is always a fun event with noted authors as speakers and the announcement of the award winners. Tickets are still available.

RUSA Awards and Volunteer Recognition Party: Sunday, June 29, 5:00-6:30 PM. Our premiere networking event, meet new people and connect with old friends as we honor people and organization who have won achievement awards.

Literary Tastes: Sunday, June 29, 8:00-10:00 AM. This is another great author event which used to be ticketed but is free and open to all! This year’s authors are:

  • Daniel J. Brown , author of 2014 RUSA Notable Book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Penguin)
  • Tessa Dare, author of Any Duchess Will Do (Avon)the top pick for The Reading List’s Romance category in 2014.
  • V. E. Schwab, author of “Vicious” (Tor Books), the top pick for The Reading List’s Fantasy category

RUSA Executive Committee and Board meetings are open if you are interested in the operational aspects of the organization. For that matter all committee meetings are open unless otherwise noted in the program as closed meetings. These are a great way to learn more about RUSA, to get involved, and meet people. Many committee appointments have been made for the next year but some committees are still seeking members. All of these meetings are listed in the ALA Conference Scheduler.

Lastly, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President for this year. After Annual I will transition to Past-President and hand leadership over to Joe Thompson. If you don’t know Joe, look for him at conference and say “hi.” He’s a great guy and will be an amazing leader for RUSA. I’m looking forward to what the next year will bring!

RUSA President, 2013-14

President’s Note

It is nearly spring. That time between ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual conference when RUSA is busy offering webinars and online courses, working on revising guidelines and planning discussion groups and programs for this year and beyond. It is also a time for refreshing and renewing, so it is when committee appointments will be made. If you have questions about the volunteer process, take a look at my column in the Winter issue of RUSQ for guidance. You can also drop in during my Office Hours and talk to me or President-Elect Joe Thompson. Office Hours are also a good time for discussing your ideas about RUSA and the library profession and there is always a RUSA Executive Board member available to answer questions or just talk.

One significant change is a new face in the RUSA Office. I’d like to welcome Marianne Braverman to the role of Marketing and Programs Manager. Marianne started with RUSA at the beginning of February and brings with her years of experience in association marketing and member services. If your group is in need of marketing and publicity or support for a conference program or event, Marianne is here to help.

RUSA is launching two new initiatives in spring 2014: sponsored student memberships and the RUSA Free School. Both initiatives are focused on library school students and making connections with new professionals. Through the sponsored student memberships, you can donate $25 to cover the cost of a student membership for one year, making the first year of membership free for the student. We will be working on ways to connect the sponsored students to mentoring opportunities and ways to be involved in RUSA. If you are interested in this or have ideas, email me at or Joe Thompson at or drop in during Office Hours.

The RUSA Free School will provide students the opportunity to present short online-presentations about topics in reference and user services. They can bring their perspectives to RUSA members through these free programs as well as gaining practical experience in presenting to a professional audience and building their portfolios. RUSA Professional Development will be working on a process to review proposals and connect the student presenters with the appropriate RUSA Sections and mentors. We plan to announce the first Free School presentations this spring as a ramp-up to Annual Conference.

Speaking of Annual Conference, if you are still making your travel and attendance plans, RUSA has a three preconferences on Friday from services to entrepreneurs, to the reference interview, to genealogical research: RUSA is a welcoming division; we want to get to know you and give you opportunities to get to know each other. Many of the Sections have social events at Annual conference. In addition, RUSA has several events where members can mingle as well learn and celebrate: the Andrew Carnegie Award Ceremony, RUSA 101, and the RUSA Awards. The schedule for Annual is full of programs of interest to RUSA members and organized by your RUSA colleagues, but more about that in the next RUSA Update!

This year’s RUSA President’s Program will address the big issue of library values. As a profession we have core values and concerns which form the foundation of our services. But do we all agree on these values? From where did these valued develop and how have they changed over time? Do our patrons value the same things about libraries as librarians? Join us for a lively, thought-provoking program with Wayne Wiegand, noted library historian, educator, and author of numerous books including Main Street Public Library: Community Places and Reading Spaces in the Rural Heartland, 1876-1956; Wayne Bivens-Tatum academic librarian and author of Libraries and the Enlightenment; consultant Lisa Carlucci Thomas; and Jeanne Goodrich, executive director of the Las Vegas Public Library and the 2013 Nevada Library Association’s Librarian of the Year.

Thank you!
RUSA President, 2013-14

From the President

Every year is a great year for RUSA but I have to say I am really impressed with everything going on in the five short months since Annual Conference and what we have planned for the future. Go RUSA!

Some highlights:

  • IAmRUSA: An interactive member-of-the-week launched in September. A big thanks to Kirk MacLeod, RUSA Spectrum Scholar, and Sarah Hammill for showing what two dedicated and enthusiastic people can do in rolling this out.
  • RUSA President’s Office hours: Bring your questions and ideas!
  • BRASS Harvard Business Review 500 statement has been picked up by news outlets and library bloggers.
  • Several webinars and online courses were offered this fall and more are planned for the spring. Register now! Some, like Managing Changes to Reference Services have sold out.

The Midwinter meeting in Philadelphia is nearly here. While many committees do not meet face-to-face at Midwinter, RUSA has a full slate of activities: discussion groups, RUSA Social, RUSA Awards, a preconference institute, etc. See the RUSA News and Section Reports for more information on RUSA activities for Midwinter.

You are what makes RUSA great! Without you we would have no one to work for and no one to prepare webinars, plan programs, write guidelines, select awards, etc. Committee appointments will be done in the spring (link) and the volunteer form is very important to fill out, even if you have been on committees before. My president’s column in the Winter issue of RUSQ has hints on an effective volunteer form and more details about the appointment process.

I really enjoying my year as president, although it has certainly kept me busy. There are more exciting things yet to come, including RUSA event at the Annual Conference and several projects which are in the works, but are not yet ready announce. So,to keep up with what RUSA is doing for you, subscribe to rusa-l or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you!
RUSA President, 2013-14

From the President

For many of us, the fall is the start of a new year: a new academic year for ourselves or our children, a post-vacation or post-summer-reading-program year, and the start of a new RUSA year. We have new committees, new programs, new online learning opportunities, newly elected leaders, and new initiatives. In many ways, one season blends into the next and one year becomes another without much fuss. Certainly there are continuing initiatives in RUSA, but I’ll give you a look at some of what is new.

Tuesdays from 2:00-3:00 PM Central, I will hold an “open office hour” in Adobe Connect. As President, one of my goals is to make it easier to work with RUSA and easier to be a part of everything that we have going on. Look for the link to the Adobe Connect room to be announced on the RUSA-L listserv* and the RUSA Facebook page and website. I will also be available during this time via telephone 649-9174 (area code 217). You can, of course, email me or call at other times, but 2:00-3:00 on Tuesdays I am dedicated to your questions and your ideas. I will be joined selected weeks by a member of the RUSA office who can also answer your RUSA questions and we will announce in advance who will be present

IAmRUSA is a new interactive member-of-the-week being worked on by Kirk MacLeod, RUSA Spectrum scholar along with two or three fabulous RUSA mentors. Each week one member, or person of interest to RUSA such as a RUSA award-winning author, will present a brief profile on ALA Communities and then field questions about her job. ALA Communities allows a threaded discussion, so people will be able to post questions, receive responses, and engage in asynchronous conversations with the profiled member and each other. ALA Communities requires registration but is free, so this will be a good way to reach non-RUSA members and library school students to spread the word about the meaningful—and often fun—work of user services and reference librarians and staff. If you are interested in helping to organize IAmRUSA or in being a member of the week, please contact MacLeod at (

More online learning! This past year RUSA sections and members were active with offering webinars and online courses. We offered five webinars and eighteen online courses reaching over 500 learners. Our members (and non-members) are eager for opportunities to learn from RUSA’s experts and we are increasing our online learning offerings. This past year was our first foray into the 1-1.5-hour webinar format and there interest in adding more topics. Our four-week courses continue to be strongly attended as well with many offered additional times due to continuing demand. We have an open-call for webinars for the fall and online courses for the spring (deadline for both is September 1.) See the list of the currently scheduled (more to come!) webinars and courses.

RUSA was awarded a Sparks! Ignition grant from IMLS for the project: National Guidelines and Best Practices for Financial Literacy Education (FLE). This work will be carried out by BRASS (Business Reference and Services Section). This initiative dovetails nicely with the existing SmartInvesting@YourLibrary grant from the FINRA foundation and addresses a very timely topic in the lives of our library users. Congratulations to RUSA and BRASS!


This year we moved to the Adobe Connect platform for our online meetings and webinars. This is not to be confused with the ALA Connect platform for asynchronous communications and committee documents. (Sort of like journals with similar names, there ought to be a rule against naming products this closely!) Virtual and between-conference committee meetings can be held in Connect or via conference call. Here is how to arrange a meeting online or via conference call. ALA is using the Adobe Connect platform so the move takes advantage of pricing and support offered by ALA.


Leadership development is something that we all need in our careers. RUSA recognizes the need for growth at all levels of your career. To start, we are focusing on early to mid-career librarians who are active RUSA volunteers. After we have developed within this scope, RUSA will expand the foci and reach to new librarians, later-career librarians, and all of RUSA membership. Gary White, RUSA past-President, is leading this initiative. Connect with Gary White ( if you are interested in volunteer to help work on this program of activities, if you have ideas on content that we should offer, or are an experienced librarian/committee chair who would like to provide mentorship or online leadership training to newer leaders. My fall RUSQ column also focuses on Leadership Development and Mentoring with tips on being a mentor and on being a mentee.

Every year brings new leadership within RUSA. Here are the elected RUSA and Section officers for this year. Newly elected Vice-President Joe Thompson and Secretary Erin Rushton and newly elected Directors-at-Large Margaret Ellingson and Louise Feldmann. Continuing on the Executive Committee are Jennifer Boettcher, RUSA Councilor, and Mary Popp, RUSA Past-President. On the RUSA Board Cynthia Levine, Celia Ross, Doris Anne Sweet, and Patrick Wall, are Directors-at-Large. The 2013-2014 RUSA Board of Directors also includes section chairs: Andy Spackman (BRASS), Asia Gross (CODES), Michelle Baildon (History), Sam Stormont (MARS), Ann K. G. Brown (RSS), and Nora Dethloff (STARS). Congratulations, too, to the new section Vice-Chairs/Chairs Elect: Todd Hines (BRASS), Deborah Abston (CODES), Jenny Presnell (HS), Stephanie J. Graves (MARS-ETS), Qiana Johnson (RSS), Christina “Tina” Baich (STARS).

Annual 2013 in Chicago was a whirlwind of RUSA activities, far too many to mention them all. The RUSA President’s program was attended by over 650 people and featured Lee Raine from the Pew Internet Trust and was followed-up the next day with an expert panel. Watch and listen online if you missed this program. We hope in the future to be able to capture more sessions for later viewing and are working with ALA Conference Services. For a full list of RUSA programs and events at Annual 2013, see the ALA Scheduler, links to program slides and handouts may be available in the comments section at the end of the program description.

As with the Academy Awards, there are so many people to thank. This is also a list of people that you might want to get to know, if you don’t already, as they know a lot about RUSA and libraries.

  • Thank you to Mary Popp, outgoing RUSA President (now Past-President), Gary White, Past President, and Carolyn Larson, Secretary, for being people who offer good counsel and get things done.
  • Thank you to the outgoing members of the RUSA Board of Directors: Chris LeBeau (BRASS), Dianna McKellar (MARS), Alesia McManus (Director at Large), Amber Prentiss (Director at Large), Janice Schultz (History), Liane Taylor (RSS), Barry Trott (Past President), and Heather Weltin (STARS).
  • Thank you to every volunteer in every part of RUSA! RUSA does nothing without you.
  • Thanks to the RUSA office for supporting the work of RUSA: Executive Director, Susan Hornung; Andrea Hill, web services manager; Liz Markel, marketing and programs manager; and Leighann Wood, membership assistant.
  • Thanks to Barry Trott for successfully moving Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) to online-only and a great first-year as editor of our esteemed journal.
  • Thank you, Liane Taylor, for your hard work in supporting Blackboard Collaborate for online meetings and webinars and for helping us with the transition to Adobe Connect.
  • And thank you to all of the RUSA members who support what we do through their membership and their attendance at RUSA events at conference and online.

Making it (even) easier to volunteer Members are what make RUSA work. It is trite, but true. Our programs, our webinars, our courses, our guidelines, our awards, our social functions: everything is based on member ideas and member work. Sometimes, though, people don’t have the ability to volunteer for an entire year of committee work. And sometimes we don’t have room on the committees for all of the volunteers, since a too-large committee is unwieldy. We are working with RUSA Office and some of the committees on short-term and micro-volunteer opportunities. Look for the announcements about those on RUSA-L. The RUSA Legislative Assembly Reps have already launched a call for volunteers to help with advocacy for legislative issues. If you did not see that call but have a passion around in legislation that affects libraries, please contact Alesia McManus at

Anyone can have a good idea, share yours! A lot of what we do comes from committees and sections, but RUSA also serves members who are not committee members. I know that many people do not have the time to volunteer or put their volunteer efforts elsewhere. Suggesting an activity or topic area for RUSA doesn’t mean that we will make it your responsibility. So, stop into my weekly Tuesday office hour or send me an email. The email inboxes of the rest of the RUSA Board (named above) are also open.

Have a great year!

M. Kathleen Kern
RUSA President 2013-2014

From the President

We are fast approaching the Annual Conference in Chicago. Much work has happened since I last wrote to you and much will happen at the Annual Conference in Chicago in June. I am excited and I hope you will be, too, by all the wonderful things happening in RUSA.

RUSA President’s Program in Chicago: Come and Hear Lee Rainie
I am excited about the President’s Program this year, entitled The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program. Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project will present information from Pew’s extensive research about how people use information and libraries, based on recent research completed by the Project he leads and give us food for thought about the questions we should ask ourselves and our users as we consider this data. Join us on Saturday, June 29 from 4:00-5:30 P.M. at the McCormick Place Convention Center, room S105 a-c.

Equally exciting to me is the follow-up discussion forum the next morning that carries Mr. Rainie’s information and ideas out to attendees. On Sunday, June 30 at 10:30 A.M. in room E351 of the McCormick Place Convention Center, our distinguished panel, moderated by Marie Radford, consisting of Emily Ford, David Lankes, Marie herself, and Joyce Valenza will interact with Mr. Rainie and the participants in the forum to discuss the characteristics of library users and their implications for libraries and the services we provide.

The co-chairs of the RUSA President’s Program, Mary Mintz and Joseph Thompson, along with the hard-working members of the committee, Emily Kornak, Dianna McKellar, Sherri Michaels, and Matt Neer, have planned a wonderful set of programs for Chicago and I am looking forward to them. I hope you will join us for one or both of these important sessions.

Mark Your Calendar for RUSA’s Wonderful Upcoming Programs in Chicago

RUSA’s Signature Programs:

  • RUSA 101
    Friday, June 28, 3:00-4:00 P.M.
    Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Jackson Park 10 A, B, C
  • RUSA President’s Program
    Saturday, June 29, 4:00-5:30 P.M.
    McCormick Place Convention Center, S105 a-c
  • Literary Tastes Author Event
    Sunday, June 30, 8:00-10:00 A.M.
    McCormick Place Convention Center, S103bc
  • RUSA Awards Reception and Volunteer Appreciation Party
    Sunday, June 30, 5:00-6:30 P.M.
    Hyatt-Regency McCormick Place, Prairie Room
  • Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction Ceremony and Reception
    Sunday, June 30, 8:00-10:00 P.M.,
    Ticketed event; separate registration required; registration information here.
    Radisson Blu Hotel, Atlantic Room A

Not to Be Missed RUSA Programs:

In addition, RUSA is sponsoring a number of important discussion sessions where you can share ideas with your colleagues.

Use the ALA Conference Scheduler to create a personal schedule and you will be alerted to any last minute location changes.

Free Upcoming Webinars
In an effort to provide greater value for RUSA members, the RUSA Board approved a plan to provide a group of high quality webinars, one sponsored by each RUSA section, free to RUSA members. The Professional Development Committee, led by Jim Rettig, has been carefully reviewing proposals and we will have seven new webinars free to RUSA members over the next eight to nine months. They will cover such topics as: genealogy and history resources, online reference resources, reference tracking and data collection, industry research, sharing resources worldwide, and creating an “elevator speech” to tell non-librarians about reference services. Stay tuned for more details!

Strategic Planning
At the Midwinter meeting, RUSA sponsored its annual Town Hall and Think Tank meetings with a theme of encouraging members to be more involved in RUSA and to support members as they engage in RUSA activities. As a result, the RUSA Board and Executive Committee are looking closely at the RUSA Strategic Plan and making plans to update it at the Annual Conference. Each section and standing committee has had an opportunity to weigh in on new initiatives they feel are high priority and we will add more objectives and tasks to facilitate member interest and engagement.

Leadership Development Plan
One of the pieces of the RUSA Strategic Plan (and a good complement to the plans of current ALA President, Maureen Sullivan) is to develop leadership skills in RUSA member leaders. This year we are trying a pilot project to send RUSA-level officers and chairs, standing committee chairs, and section leaders to the Servant Leadership in Your Library preconference at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago sponsored by our sister division ASCLA. Those who participate will be asked to help to develop a RUSA leadership program to help us support RUSA as the best division within ALA. See the RUSA Blog for more details.

Move to Adobe Connect from Blackboard
Our efforts, using RUSA Reserve funds, over the past year to provide greater support for online webinars and committee meetings using a combination of new conference call lines and Blackboard Collaborate software have been a resounding success. Now that ALA has purchased a subscription to Adobe Connect, RUSA will move to that software beginning in June and training programs are going on right now.

New RUSA Guidelines
The RUSA Board has approved two new sets of RUSA guidelines. They are: Guidelines for Business Information Responses and Guidelines for Behavioral Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers. These will be posted to the RUSA web site soon. The Reference Services Section (RSS) has also put forward a proposal to update the RUSA Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians.

Congratulations to New RUSA Officers
Our new officers will join Kathleen Kern who will take over the reins of RUSA as its new president at the end of the Chicago conference.

  • President-Elect: Joseph Thompson
  • Secretary: Erin Rushton
  • Director-at-Large: Margaret W. Ellingson and Louise Mort Feldmann

The Last Word(s): Thank YOU!
As I end my term in the RUSA Presidency, I want to take the opportunity to say thank you to all of those with whom I have worked this past year.

Special thanks go to the RUSA Office staff, who were always kind and never laughed at my ideas, including our Executive Director, Susan Hornung, Andrea Hill, Liz Markel, and Leighann Wood. The Executive Committee members gave wonderful advice and also deserve thanks and high praise: Gary White, Past President; Kathleen Kern, Vice-President/President-Elect; Carolyn Larson, Secretary; and Jennifer Boettcher, RUSA Councilor. A big thank you goes out to Gary and Carolyn as they leave the Executive Committee at the end of their terms.

The members of the RUSA Board regularly and generously give of their time and their ideas. Thank you to all of the section chairs—David Atkins (STARS), Debbie Bezanson (MARS), Ann Fiegen (BRASS), Sarah Hammill (RSS), Sara Morris (History), and Mary Parker (CODES)—for their hard work and good advice.

Members-at-Large serve as mentors to standing committees, sections, and all of RUSA. I want to send a big thank you to Wayne Bivens-Tatum and Judy Solberg, retiring Members-at-Large, for all of your hard work. To our continuing Members, Cindy Levine, Celia Ross, Doris Ann Sweet, and Patrick Wall, my thanks and best wishes for the coming years.

Diana Schonrock and Elizabeth Stephan and the Just Ask Team are moving forward to help us tell the story of reference services to the world. Elizabeth (editor of the RUSA Update) and Barry Trott I (editor of RUSQ) continue to provide our members with up-to-date and useful information.

All the committee members, both of RUSA standing committees and RUSA sections, served everyone in RUSA very well. Know that you are appreciated!

To all of the members of RUSA who share your ideas and your joys and frustrations with us, a big “thank you”! for your support.

To Kathleen Kern and the new Executive Committee as well as the new members of the RUSA Board—I wish you all a happy and productive coming year.

Mary Pagliero Popp
RUSA President 2012-2013

Letter from the President

Midwinter has come and gone and a great deal of work happened in Seattle (and at home around the Seattle conference). Now it is time to look forward to the ALA Conference in Chicago. What are YOUR ideas? Let me know what you think.

RUSA Book and Media Awards
On Sunday, January 27 in Seattle, there was a glittering reception with a standing-room only crowd to celebrate the winners of the annual RUSA Book and Media Awards. These awards honor wonderful books in print and on audio that you will want to read as well as websites you will want to bookmark and visit again and again. Follow the links below to see the winners.

Mark Your Calendar for RUSA’s Premier Book Celebrations
Join us in Chicago at the Annual Conference on Sunday, June 30, 2013, for a day devoted to books. The day begins with the Literary Tastes author program where you will hear authors talk about their work, then meet them in person as they sign (free) books for you.

At the end of the day we will celebrate the gala 2nd Annual Awards Ceremony for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction, sponsored by RUSA and Booklist. RUSA provides a home to the best in adult reading! Get your tickets at the conference registration site.

Lee Rainie Headlines RUSA President’s Program in Chicago
I am pleased to announce that Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project will present information at the RUSA President’s Program during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago about how people use information and libraries, based on Pew’s recent research. You have often seen the media coverage of the many wonderful surveys from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Several reports, on teens and young adults, on the use of e-books in libraries, and on the use of libraries have come out in the past year. The most recent of these was released on January 23 and others are scheduled to be released this spring.

Join us for Rainie’s presentation, entitled The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program, scheduled for 4:00 P.M. on Saturday June 29. He will talk with us about the results of the Pew studies and the questions librarians in all types of libraries should be asking themselves as they consider this data. Be sure to also attend the follow-up discussion forum the next morning (Sunday, June 30) at 10:30 a.m. where Emily Ford, David Lankes, and Marie Radford will interact with Mr. Rainie and the participants in the forum to discuss the characteristics of library users and their implications for libraries and the services we offer.

Financial Literacy Education
The RUSA Executive Director participated in a meeting in Washington, D.C., with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) leadership team about financial literacy education, and RUSA has been encouraged to develop new financial literacy resources. The BRASS Executive Board enthusiastically agreed to work on a plan and the RUSA Executive Committee approved applying for a Sparks grant to develop a plan to create guidelines and best practices/competencies in financial literacy education for libraries. The grant proposal has been submitted. Keep your fingers crossed!

Just Ask Team Moves Forward
The Just Ask Team is charged to develop a plan to celebrate the reference services of libraries and to raise awareness of library information services. As a first step, the group sponsored a very well-attended discussion at the Midwinter meeting in Seattle focused on reviewing the current RUSA definition of reference services, on discussing the roles of reference librarians, and on generating ideas for advocacy tools for reference librarians to use in promoting their work. A number of exciting ideas were generated for campaigns and advocacy tools. Stay tuned for more on this exciting work.

We want to include you in our work next year. The incoming RUSA President, Kathleen Kern, will be appointing RUSA level committees this spring. Section vice-chairs will be appointing section committees as well.

Share your expertise! You will find more information at the RUSA web site at Click on the link to Committee Rosters to see the charge for each group.

Once you know what you want to do, fill out the online form at the RUSA Committees site and click on the link to the RUSA Online Volunteer Form. We want to hear from you!

The Last Word….
Please take a few minutes to review the information from sections and committees that appears in this newsletter. RUSA, its sections, and its members are doing marvelous things. Be in the know!

Don’t forget to vote in the ALA and RUSA Elections. We have a wonderful slate of candidates for RUSA and section offices. Please be sure to cast your ballot before the deadline. RUSA is your organization. It is important for you to determine its direction.

As always, I want to hear from you about any ideas and suggestions you might have. Please write to me at

Mary Pagliero Popp
RUSA President 2012-2013

Letter from the President

From the President –

It has been a busy fall for RUSA and it is about to get even busier! It is hard to believe that Midwinter is nearly upon us. Check out the information below to find the places where you can contribute.

Framing the Future

ALA and RUSA are working hard to better serve our members. This includes spending time planning for the future. At the Joint Boards meeting at the end of October, ALA Division leaders and the ALA Executive Committee joined with ALA staff to begin to reimagine ALA as a more collaborative, nimble and flexible organization. The results of the discussions are being put together now. Stay tuned for more information and ideas from President Maureen Sullivan as we move toward Midwinter.

The RUSA Executive Committee met for a day and a half at the Chicago meeting as well. Four big plans have come out of those discussions:

Pilot Test for Free Webinars during 2012-2013

The RUSA Board has agreed to try a pilot test to use our new Blackboard Collaborate software to host several free webinars in 2013. RUSA will support and pay all costs for one free webinar for each section. Watch RUSA-L and ALA Connect to find out which webinars you will want to attend!

Not signed up for RUSA-L yet? Here’s the information you need to get started:

Strategic Planning

RUSA’s 2012-2015 Strategic Plan is under discussion to put actions in place to achieve the objectives identified by the plan. I urge you to review the plan and think about what you need form RUSA. You can find the strategic plan on the RUSA Web site at:

Before Midwinter, we will invite all of you to comment on the plan and its objectives and suggest activities for RUSA. Watch ALA Connect and RUSA-L for more details!

Learning Outcomes and Knowledge Coordination Task Force

The RUSA membership survey a little over a year ago and RUSA Structures Task Force report last year noted that the highest priority for our members is professional development opportunity. In order to do this right, though, we need to have a coherent plan to tie together professional development, programming, the hybrid programming that is partly professional development and partly programming, and the resources of the web site. A new task force is beginning the conversation. The group has been asked to:

  • Consult widely within RUSA and create a vision for a coordinated approach to professional development, programs, and publications.
  • Develop a sustainable plan for virtual programs
  • Develop a measurable plan for provide professional education through a variety of formats.
  • Develop a sustainable plan for the RUSA website so that our web site is useful to members and includes information that members can use in their daily work.

RUSA Review Task Force

There is a great deal of work going on at ALA to re-imagine the whole organization as a more collaborative and nimble group. As I mentioned earlier, the discussions at the Joint Boards meeting in Chicago in late October were focused on a return to major priorities. As part of that return, there will be a concerted look at the organization, with a focus on reducing duplication and fostering collaboration to make ALA more attractive to members who can no longer afford to spend as much time or money as in days past.

Thanks to the hard work of many individuals and groups, we have good information about RUSA’s sections and standing committees. There is, however, a piece missing that we need to have in place if we are to respond to the opportunities any changes in ALA will bring to us in the near future. We know that our sections are a great strength. The Executive Committee and I believe that it is time to look at RUSA as a whole in the way that we have been so successful in reviewing sections. It is important for us to think about the role of RUSA in this new ALA. Our primary outcome is a re-invigorated RUSA in which members are enthusiastic about what they can do and what RUSA can give them. We want to be confident that RUSA as an organization can continue to meet changing member needs.

A new task force is being formed to lead this review. It will complete its work in September 2013. Please watch for your chance to provide input to this important process.

Special Committee Initiatives

The Resource Development Committee is hard at work to identify ways that RUSA can develop programs and services that provide more income for RUSA activities. Have ideas? Contact Gary White at

The Just Ask Team was formed to develop a vision of both reference librarians and reference services to help RUSA advocate for the support and development of quality reference services. The committee will work to design promotional materials that convey the value of reference librarians and services in all types of libraries to both the profession and the general public It now has two co-chairs, Diana Shonrock and Elizabeth Stephan. Under their leadership, the team is planning a Discussion Forum in Seattle on Sunday, January 27 from 8:30 to 10:00 AM at the Midwinter meeting in Seattle to identify the roles and duties of reference librarians in different types of libraries, to begin to revise the RUSA definition of reference services, to identify needed advocacy tools, and to plan for a needs assessment study of reference librarians. We hope you will join the conversation at the Red Lion Hotel Fifth Avenue, Emerald II.

Annual RUSA Town Hall Meeting

RUSA meetings are listed in the ALA Midwinter Conference Scheduler. Those who are attending the conference can find out what RUSA is doing by visiting:

Not able to attend Midwinter? You can still participate in RUSA planning. At the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, join the RUSA Board either in person or online to participate in the annual Town Hall meeting on Saturday, January 26 at 1:30 PM in the Washington Convention Center, Room TCC 205.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What keeps you involved in RUSA?
  • What encourages you to attend RUSA meetings?
  • What additional topics would you like to see in RUSA professional development activities?
  • What affinity areas would you like to see in RUSA (such as interest groups on particular topics that cross section levels)?

Don’t forget other fun activities at Midwinter, including:

RUSA Social

Saturday, January 26, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Grand Hyatt Seattle, Leonesa I

A fun event where you can meet old friends and new, enjoying appetizers and a cash bar.

RUSA Book & Media Awards

Sunday, January 27, 5:00 – 6:30 pm, Renaissance Seattle Hotel, Municipal Room

A wonderful way to hear about the best of the best. This is where the top titles selected by RUSA CODES committees are announced.


We want to include you in our work next year. The incoming RUSA President, Kathleen Kern, will be appointing RUSA level committees after Midwinter. Section vice-chairs will be appointing section committees as well.

We want to include you! Be sure to fill out the online form at the RUSA site. Go to: and click on the link to the RUSA Online Volunteer Form.

Click on Committee Rosters to see the charge for each group.

Tell us what you know and what you like to do. We will be listening!

In addition, we have lost a few committee members due to illness and changes in work responsibilities that do not allow them to be active this year. I will be filling several of these slots over the next few weeks.

The Last Word….

Let me take a moment to say a big THANK YOU to Susan Hornung and all of the RUSA staff, the members of the RUSA Executive Committee, RUSA Board, standing committees, and section leaders for their incredibly smart and hard work this past summer and fall. I look forward to even more fun this spring.

And as always, I want to hear from you about any ideas and suggestions you might have. Please write to me at

Mary Pagliero Popp
RUSA President 2012-2013

Letter from the President

Happy Fall! I am writing this in the heat of summer and I hope that by the time you are reading this message, it will be cooler and wetter in most places. The Annual Conference in Anaheim was a resounding success and RUSA had a number of wonderful programs as well as productive meetings. Topics covered in our programs included: making decisions about e-books, international interlibrary loan, return on investment (ROI) for virtual reference, the 1940 Census, library services to Baby Boomers and older adults, discovery systems, integrating social media and online marketing, business data sources, and many more The MARS Chair’s Program was selected this year to serve also as the President’s Program. Entitled Library in Your Hand: Mobile Technologies for Exchanging Information with Patrons, it provided an overview of the advantages of communication with library users through mobile devices, presented by Joan Lippincott, and descriptions of exemplary programs at North Carolina State University (Kristin Antelman) and Topeka Public Library (David Lee King) A video of the program is available from the RUSA web site at It is posted in two parts.

RUSA 101, our introduction to new members, was a rousing success. The room had to be changed because so many people indicated in the Scheduler that they planned to attend and the new room was filled to capacity. The excitement was strong! Congratulations to Liane Taylor and her committee for their wonderful session.

This year, we experimented with the venerable Literary Tastes program. This program has traditionally featured authors and free books. Instead of a paid breakfast, this year it was a RUSA program. I really wished that I could have the authors who spoke talk to incoming freshmen at my university. They spoke with passion about their work and their research, making their books and the work of writing them come alive. We were pleased to feature: Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus; Candice Millard, author of Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President; Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time; and Russell Banks, author of Lost Memory of Skin (and a shortlisted title on the Carnegie Award fiction list).

One might call 2011-2012 the Year of Awards. With Booklist and the support of the Carnegie Corporation, RUSA co-sponsored the first-ever awards for the best work of fiction and of non-fiction for adults published in the United States in the previous year. This year’s inaugural winners were: Anne Enright who was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for her novel The Forgotten Waltz, published by W. W. Norton & Company. Robert K. Massie was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction for Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, published by Random House. We salute them both.

The other nominated works were great books as well. Check out the full list under About the Awards.

RUSA gives out many awards each year at the Annual Conference—to RUSA members, to libraries and librarians for excellence in service, to authors and publishers. The full list can be found on the RUSABlog. Please join me in congratulating all of the winners.

This year RUSA sections created two new awards, the BRASS Business Expert Press Award for Academic Librarians and Gale Cengage History Research and Innovation Awards.

We said thank you and “well done” to our outgoing Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) editor, Diane Zabel, as she ended her term and welcomed the new editor, Barry Trott.

Under the leadership of Gary White, 2011-2012 RUSA President and the Executive Committee, the RUSA Board developed a new three-year (2012-2015) Strategic Plan. The plan focuses on membership and membership benefits, professional development, marketing and outreach, and increasing the effectiveness of RUSA as an organization.

A subcommittee (Alicia Ahlvers, Emily Hamstra, and Emily Kornak) reviewed the results of last year’s RUSA membership survey and made recommendations to the Board. They were a good complement to the RUSA Structures Task Force Report from the committee chaired by Kate Kosturski presented to the RUSA Board at Midwinter. We will use this information as we move forward on the RUSA strategic plan.

Welcome New Leaders
This summer our newly elected officers and Board members are beginning their work of planning for activities that will occur over the next year. Congratulations to Kathleen Kern, Vice-President/President-Elect, new Directors-at-Large Cynthia Levine and Celia Ross, and new Division Councilor Jennifer Boettcher. Continuing on the Executive Committee are Carolyn Larson, RUSA Secretary, and Gary White, RUSA Past-President. On the RUSA Board Wayne Bivens-Tatum, Judy L. Solberg, Doris Anne Sweet, and Patrick Wall, are Directors-at-Large. The 2012-2013 RUSA Board of Directors also includes section chairs: Ann Fiegen (BRASS), Mary M. D. Parker (CODES), Sara E. Morris (History), Deborah K. Bezanson (MARS), Sarah Hammill (RSS) and David Atkins (STARS). I look forward to working with them as we plan for your programs and services in RUSA this year.

Congratulations, too, to the new section Vice-Chairs/Chairs Elect—Andy Spackman (BRASS), Asia Gross (CODES), Michelle Baildon (History), Sam Stormont (MARS), Ann K. G. Brown (RSS), and Nora Dethloff (STARS).

Plans for the Coming Year
Our first steps in the coming year will be to look at the new Strategic Plan and develop action plans to move forward on important parts of the plan. Using some of our reserve funds, we have put our money where our priorities lie, bringing Collaborate web-conferencing software into play for webinars, committee meetings, and many other things we haven’t yet dreamed. We also will sponsor a separate President’s Program. Mary Mintz and Joe Thompson are hard at work with their excellent committee to bring you a program that will dazzle!

This year I plan to begin a comprehensive look at our continuing education, publications (including the web site), communications with members, and programming to see if we can identify priorities, fill gaps, and meet your needs.

Huge Thank You!
This would not be a proper initial message without saying thank you to many wonderful people!

  • Thank you to Gary White, who led RUSA over the last year so that it accomplished many goals and began initiatives leading to changes that will make RUSA more responsive to members. I also send a personal thank you to Gary for his kind and patient guidance.
  • Thanks to outgoing RUSQ editor Diane Zabel. She charted a course that has led to a newly revitalized and online journal.
  • Thank you to outgoing members of the Executive Committee who have worked so hard, Barry Trott, Past President, and Kathleen Kern, RUSA Councilor.
  • Thank you to the outgoing members of the RUSA Board of Directors: Chris LeBeau (BRASS), Dianna McKellar (MARS), Alesia McManus (Director at Large), Amber Prentiss (Director at Large), Janice Schultz (History), Liane Taylor (RSS), Barry Trott (Past President), and Heather Weltin (STARS).
  • Kudos and thanks to RUSA Executive Director, Susan Hornung, and her staff, Andrea Hill, Liz Markel, and Leighann Wood, who kept us together and always give tremendous effort to RUSA.
  • Thank you to every committee chair and every committee member in each of our sections and on our standing RUSA committees for their hard work! The summary above can only just hit the highlights. All of these folks gave their best all through the year. Bravo!
  • And to all of you who are so loyal to RUSA, we are grateful for your participation and your confidence in RUSA.

Asking for YOUR Ideas
Other plans are in the works and will take shape over the coming year. You will hear more about them in later issues of the RUSA Update. I strongly encourage all RUSA members to share ideas with me or any other member of the RUSA Board. I can be reached at and I look forward to hearing from you.

Mary Pagliero Popp
RUSA President 2012-2013

From the President

Dear RUSA Members:

As the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim quickly approaches, I want to give you an update on some exciting activities that have taken place since Midwinter.

Hopefully you have heard about two new awards sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. RUSA and Booklist are co-sponsoring and administering the awards. The first winners of these new annual literary prizes will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim this June.

These new awards are an incredible accomplishment and it is a testament to the hard work of many people in RUSA, particularly many past CODES members, that we were the division selected to administer the grant, together with Booklist. I’d also like to convey a special thanks to our reader’s advisory stars—Joyce Saricks and Neal Wyatt—who made this possible, to Nancy Pearl who is serving as the chair of the awards committee and who will bring national recognition to this award, and to Susan Hornung and the RUSA staff who, together with others in ALA, worked incredibly hard on making this award possible.

The awards will be given to the author of the best book for adult readers in two categories—fiction and nonfiction—each year. Two additional authors will be shortlisted as finalists in each of the categories. Winning authors will receive a $5,000 cash award and finalists will each receive $1,500. The list of finalists will be announced in May. The awards are made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York on the occasion of the foundation’s centennial and in recognition of Andrew Carnegie—one of the greatest benefactors of libraries both in the United States and around the globe—who recognized libraries as indispensable to the progress of society. The fifty titles under consideration for the prize are being drawn from the annual Booklist Editors’ Choice and RUSA CODES Notable Books lists.

This is the first time that ALA will offer single-book awards for adult trade fiction and nonfiction. All of us at RUSA are incredibly thrilled about these new awards and we hope that you will be able to join us this June to see the first winners. The Carnegie Awards reception will be held Sunday, June 24, 2012, 8:00-10:00 PM at the Hilton Anaheim in room Pacific A. Please note that there is a greatly reduced rate of $25 for RUSA members to attend. Hope to see you there!

RUSA is in also in the process of creating its new three-year strategic plan. Members are invited to continue to send suggestions and input as we finalize the plan in the coming months. The draft of the plan is available here [insert link].

The RUSA Board met virtually on March 30 to discuss and vote on a number of issues. The Just Ask Campaign is now getting started and the RUSA office is working hard with the ASCLA/RUSA Web Conference Task Force, to bet Blackboard Collaborate up and running before the annual conference. Mary Popp, the next RUSA President, is busy planning for the next year and she outlined some of her ideas at this meeting.

I hope to see many of you in Anaheim in just a short while. In addition to the Carnegie Awards reception mentioned above, please also plan on attending:

  1. RUSA 101, Friday, June 22, 3:00-4:00 PM
  2. Literary Tastes, Sunday, June 24, 8:00-10:00 AM (Note: In response to the RUSA member survey, this event is now free to RUSA members!)
  3. RUSA President’s Program/Mars Chair’s Program: Library in Your Hand: Mobile Technologies for Exchanging Information with Patrons, Sunday, June 24, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
  4. RUSA Awards Ceremony, Sunday, June 24, 5:00-6:30 PM

These are just a few of the many RUSA and section events and meetings taking place, so please be sure to check the complete schedule for times and locations. Thanks again to all of the RUSA volunteers who continue to make RUSA such an outstanding organization. And a huge thanks to Susan Hornung, Liz Markel and Andrea Hill for making everything work so smoothly. See you in June!

Gary White
RUSA President

From the President

The year’s ALA Midwinter in Dallas was a great time to see old friends and to participate in the many RUSA activities that took place there. Two of the highlights were the annual RUSA Social and the RUSA Book and Media Awards. I’d like to thank Liane Taylor and the RUSA Membership Committee for coordinating the well-attended RUSA Social on Saturday evening. It was a lot of fun to catch up with RUSA members and to meet some new members! And I’d like to convey a special thanks to Sharron Smith and to Neal Wyatt for their great work in organizing this year’s Book and Media Awards reception held Sunday evening, and also express my thanks and appreciation to all of the hardworking award committees and chairs. Please visit for a complete list of winners and for important updates on RUSA’s literary news. A very special thanks goes to Susan Hornung, Liz Markel, and Andrea Hill for all of their work with both of these events and with all of the activities that go into making Midwinter successful. Thank you all!

We also held our second annual Virtual Town Hall meeting this year for members who could not attend in person. The RUSA staff created five chat rooms where users could post questions and comments and to get live feedback from the meeting. Thanks to our volunteers for monitoring the rooms! After the Virtual Town Hall meeting, the RUSA Board Big Think focused on discussing the kind of organization that RUSA should become in the future. Both of these events will inform us as we begin to craft our next strategic plan, which will take place this spring.

The work of two important committees will also greatly assist in our strategic planning, the RUSA Structure Taskforce, chaired by Kate Kosturski, and the RUSA/ASCLA Web Conferencing Task Force, chaired by Liane Taylor. Kate gave an overview of her committee’s recommendations, which will greatly aid RUSA in its future plans. Liane’s Task Force has also completed its work and RUSA will be implementing Blackboard Collaborate in order to allow more members to conduct work virtually. These are both significant accomplishments that will help RUSA grow and prosper. Thank you, Kate and Liane! The RUSA Board also approved the creation of one new committee, the ad-hoc Resource Development Committee, which will be asked to explore and facilitate fund raising and donor relations. The work of this committee will help to identify and seek resources for new RUSA initiatives.

The RUSA Board also approved two new awards. The BRASS Business Expert Press Award for Academic Librarians is a new $1,250.00 cash award given to an academic librarian who is new to the field of business librarianship in order to support attendance to the ALA Annual Conference. The Gale Cengage History Research and Innovation Award is a new award for up to $2500 to facilitate and further research in history and history librarianship and to encourage membership in the ALA RUSA History Section. Thanks to Chris LeBeau (BRASS Chair) and Janice Shultz (History Section Chair) and members of their sections for bringing these awards to fruition. And a big thanks to Business Expert Press and Gale Cengage for their support of RUSA.

RUSA also continues its role as administrator for the FINRA (Financial Industry Regulator Authority) Investor Education Foundation’s program entitled Smart investing @ your library. This grant program, in place since 2007, funds public library efforts to provide library patrons with access to effective, unbiased financial education resources. To date, sixty-four grants have been awarded, totaling $4,691,952. I had the pleasure of attending a FINRA reception on Friday evening in order to meet many of this year’s grant recipients. For more information about Smart investing @ your library, visit For more information on the FINRA Foundation see A big thank you to FINRA for sponsoring this important program.

Last, but certainly not least, the RUSA Board approved a recommendation for our new editor of Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ). The editor selection committee, chaired by current RUSQ editor Diane Zabel, has been working hard on the selection and interview process during the past year. I am pleased that our new editor is Barry Trott, RUSA Past-President and long-time RUSA member. Thank you Barry for taking on this important role, and thank you Diane for your years of service as editor! Under Barry’s leadership RUSQ will continue its rich tradition as RUSA’s premier publication.

Thanks again to all of the RUSA volunteers who make RUSA the outstanding organization that it is. And a huge thanks to the RUSA staff for making it all work! It was great seeing many of you at Midwinter and I look forward to seeing you in Anaheim!

Gary White
RUSA President, 2011-12

From the President

Hello RUSA Members!

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are rapidly approaching and Midwinter is just a few months away! I’ve spent the first few months as RUSA President continuing our work in the Division and starting to plan for some new initiatives in the coming year. The RUSA Executive Committee recently met in Chicago for its annual Fall Leadership Meeting, so I want to share the highlights of that meeting and to fill you in on some future plans.

First, there is good news about both the budget and RUSA membership. RUSA ended fiscal year 2011 with a budget surplus of just over $40,000, largely due to lower expenses and additional revenue from several sources. RUSA will be transferring this income to our reserve in order to ensure that the division is able to embark on future initiatives and to meet its goals in the coming years. In 2011, we had our first increase in overall personal memberships since 2006. While the increase was very small, this does provide some hope that our membership numbers will stabilize and possibly grow in the coming years. I want to extend my thanks to Susan Hornung and the RUSA staff and to the many volunteers in RUSA who worked very hard on these accomplishments.

RUSA is also actively exploring ways that we can make the association more responsive and useful to members. Two groups have been working very hard the past few months on these efforts. The RUSA Structure Taskforce, chaired by Kate Kosturski , has been charged with broadly examining RUSA’s structure and procedures. The issues they are tackling include:

  1. Exploring ways to move from in-person to more virtual meetings
  2. Attracting non-librarians to RUSA
  3. Creating information on Connect to support RUSA members
  4. Expanding joint programs with other ALA Divisions and Roundtables

I want to extend my sincere thanks to Kate and the members of this committee for their important work.

Liane Taylor, chair of the RUSA Membership Committee, has been leading another group looking at Web conferencing software and exploring options that will allow RUSA members to conduct more work virtually. I want to thank Liane and her committee for all of their efforts on this project, which will greatly enhance the ability of RUSA members to work together more efficiently.

This fall, we have the pleasure of welcoming two new people to RUSA. First, Emily Kornak, Adult Services Librarian at Barrington Public Library in Barrington, Illinois, is RUSA’s new Spectrum Scholar intern for 2012-13. She will be working closely with Mary Popp, RUSA’s Vice-President/President-Elect. Second, Emily Hamstra, Undergraduate Learning Librarian at the University of Michigan, is the member of ALA’s 2012 class of Emerging Leaders who is sponsored by RUSA. Congratulations to Emily and Emily and we look forward to working with you both!

RUSA is also in the process of putting together a new “Just Ask” team that will work on a campaign with the broad goal of highlighting and celebrating the important work of reference and user services librarians. During the coming year, RUSA will also be embarking on the creation of a new three-year strategic plan for RUSA. In order to gather ideas for the future of RUSA, we will once again be holding a virtual Town Hall meeting during Midwinter. Please plan on participating if possible—more information on how to participate will be coming out shortly before the conference.

Finally, I want to thank Diane Zabel, editor of Reference & User Services Quarterly (RUSQ), and the editorial board members, column editors, and contributors who all work very hard to consistently publish this outstanding journal. As you know, RUSQ is now entirely digital, a change made this past year to broaden access, make the content available in a more timely manner, and to reduce expenses. As a reminder, you can access RUSQonline. I want to offer my sincere thanks to Diane and the other volunteers, who all put in a tremendous amount of work and their own time to produce RUSQ.

As you can see, RUSA is moving forward on a number of different initiatives—all aimed at making RUSA a more responsive organization for its members. I encourage you to actively participate in the work of RUSA if you are not already doing so. As always, please contact me directly with your ideas or thoughts on how we can make RUSA better. If you are interested in volunteering, you can get more information on RUSA committees at the RUSA website. Also, check out the descriptions of division-level committees under “About RUSA” and committees in each section by clicking on the link to the section web site. To volunteer, simply fill out a volunteer form.

Finally, I want to extend a huge thanks to Susan Hornung and the RUSA staff for their outstanding support and to all of the volunteers of RUSA who continually astound me with their dedication and service.

I wish you Happy Holidays and look forward to seeing you in Dallas!

Gary White

RUSA President

President’s Note

Hello everyone! The ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans was a great time to get together for informative programs, exciting events, to meet new people, and to catch up with old friends. RUSA continued its excellent record of high quality programs with four preconferences, sponsored by BRASS, MARS, RSS, and History, and through many other section programs on topics such as readers’ advisory, virtual reference, assessment, and marketing. Highlights of the conference included the CODES annual Literary Tastes Breakfast and the annual RUSA Awards program where we were able to recognize outstanding members of RUSA.

Please join me in congratulating our newly elected officers of RUSA: Mary Popp, Vice-President/President-Elect; Patrick Wall and Doris Ann Sweet, Directors-At-Large; and Carolyn Larson, RUSA Secretary. Mary will be working to solicit volunteers for many RUSA level committees in the coming year so please consider volunteering. Congratulations also to all of our newly elected section officers! (A complete list is on the RUSA Blog).

During the coming year, RUSA will be developing its new three-year strategic plan with the broad goals of increasing membership; better meeting user needs and interests; facilitating member participation; and making the best use of RUSA committee and board meeting time. A taskforce has been set up with representation from each section to develop recommendations for how RUSA can structure itself to meet these needs, and we will solicit input from membership throughout the coming year. RUSA is also working on software and procedures to enable more virtual participation in programs, webinars and meetings. Please contact me with your ideas and suggestions on ways that we can continue to improve RUSA.

I would like to thank RUSA’s outgoing President, Barry Trott, for his leadership and for his guidance as I prepared to step into this role. I’d also like to thank the other members of the RUSA Executive Committee, Susan Beck, Kathleen Kern, and Theresa Mudrock, for all of the help and support. I’m looking forward to working with our outstanding Board in the coming year and would like to offer my thanks to RUSA members who offer their expertise through leadership and service in the many RUSA and section level committees. Finally, I’d like to give a special thanks to Susan Hornung, Executive Director, who continually keeps me on track and who makes sure that RUSA is running smoothly and efficiently. I also want to thank both Liz Markel, Marketing Specialist, and Andrea Hill, Web Services Manager, for all of their support. RUSA is able to function thanks to the hard work of these three people.

After serving in RUSA for nearly twenty years, I am continually impressed with our members’ passion for reference and user services and for the camaraderie and friendship that I see throughout the division. I am humbled and proud to have this chance to serve as President. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you in Dallas in 2012!

Gary White
RUSA President

President’s Note

Hello, all. One thing that I have discovered during my year as president of RUSA is how quickly the time passes. As I am writing this, April is winding down, and before long, Annual will be here, and I will be turning over the gavel (and the responsibilities) to Gary White. It has been a productive year in RUSA, and I know that under Gary’s leadership RUSA will continue to move forward in serving its members and promoting the work of public service librarians in all types of libraries.

As always, RUSA is well-represented in the programming at ALA Annual Conference. There are four preconferences sponsored by RUSA sections—BRASS, MARS, RSS, and History. CODES is putting on its annual Literary Tastes Breakfast. There is the RUSA Awards program where we recognize outstanding practitioners in our division. RUSA sections are also putting on an additional thirteen programs covering topics from marketing reference to Ill to readers’ advisory to developing information services. The program choices reflect not only the needs of the profession but also the wide range of interests and knowledge that RUSA members can share with our colleagues. All of these programs offer opportunities for librarians, RUSA members and non-members alike, to develop and expand their skills. They are also a great opportunity for current RUSA members to encourage friends and colleagues to join RUSA. So bring a co-worker along to one of the many RUSA section offerings and see if they would be interested in being part of the great work that RUSA members do.

Over the course of the 2011-12 year, RUSA will be developing its new three-year strategic plan. This plan will help to guide the division and the sections as we move ahead. There will be a variety of opportunities for RUSA members to participate in the process. The RUSA member survey that we conducted at the end of April will give us valuable input in the planning process. I have also set up a taskforce with representation from each of the RUSA sections that is charged with drafting recommendations for structural changes that RUSA can implement that can help to: 1) Increase membership; 2) Better meet member needs and interests; 3) Facilitate member participation; and 4) Make the best use of RUSA committee and board meeting time. This taskforce will build off of the excellent work done by the RUSA Electronic Participation Taskforce. These recommendations will come to the Board at Midwinter 2012 for use in developing the RUSA strategic plan for 2012-15.

In closing, I would like to thank RUSA Past-President, Susan Beck, RUSA Vice-President/President Elect, Gary White, RUSA Councilor, Kathleen Kern, and RUSA Secretary, Theresa Mudrock for their support and their excellent work on the RUSA Executive Committee. I would also like to thank all the members of the RUSA Board whose commitment to making RUSA work for its members is evident in all that they do. I would add my thanks to the RUSA committee chairs, and the RUSA section boards for supporting RUSA members needs. And a thanks as well to all RUSA members for their passionate interest in user services. Finally, RUSA would not be able to function without the work done by our Executive Director, Susan Hornung, and the RUSA staff, Marketing Specialist, Liz Markel and Web Services Manager, Andrea Hill. I am grateful to all three for their work behind the scenes to keep RUSA running smoothly. It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as RUSA President, and I thank all of you for the opportunity.

Barry Trott
RUSA President

President’s Note

With Midwinter being in early January, 2011 got off to a quick start. RUSA had a variety of events at Midwinter, including a very well-attended RUSA Social. I’d like to pass on my thanks and congratulations to Liane Taylor and the RUSA Membership Committee and to Liz Markel and Susan Hornung in RUSA Office for coordinating such a wonderful event. We had over 200 attendees, both RUSA members and potential members. It is always great to see so many librarians coming together to celebrate their passion for reference work.

This Midwinter also featured our first virtual Town Hall meeting. For RUSA members who could not attend the Town Hall in person, we opened up three chat rooms where they could post questions or comments and get live feeds on the meeting. Thanks to RUSA Councilor Kathleen Kern and our Emerging Leader Kate Kosturski who worked the chat rooms during the meeting. We had about a dozen virtual participants at the meeting. I am hopeful that this model offers members expanded opportunity to participate in RUSA without having to be there in person. At the Town Hall and at the RUSA Board Big Think that followed, there was much discussion about where RUSA should be in the future. In 2012, RUSA enters a new strategic planning period, and as a start to that process, I will be working with the Board and Sections to set up a taskforce to look at the future of RUSA. This taskforce will help to shape RUSA’s directions.

While at Midwinter, I also had the opportunity to see firsthand one of RUSA’s many projects that support libraries and librarians across the country. RUSA is the administrator for the FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) Investor Education Foundation’s program Smart investing @ your library®. The program offers grants to libraries that are developing creative and practical programs and services to educate user groups about wise investing and financial decision-making. Through the FINRA Foundation, part of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the grants fund “public library efforts to provide library patrons with access to effective, unbiased financial education resources.” This year there were twenty grant recipients, sixteen new grantees and four continuing projects. Since 2007, sixty-four libraries have received grants through the Smart investing @ your library® program. This year grants were awarded to libraries from Apache Junction, Arizona and Chesterfield, Virginia to Florence, South Carolina and Pelham, Alabama There were large library systems represented as well as smaller libraries, but all of them had put together thoughtful and creative programs to offer much-needed financial information to their users. Some libraries were targeting young members of the community, others focused on seniors. Libraries have developed programs aimed at single-mothers, military spouses, and low income families. A key component of many of the programs is collaboration, and grantee libraries have developed some excellent models for partnerships in their communities. Partners have included local government agencies, colleges and universities, and state CPA organizations whose expertise has expanded the reach of the library projects. I was excited to see the ideas that librarians were coming up with to reach out to new segments of their communities, and I am delighted that RUSA has been able to work with our partners in ALA and at the FINRA Foundation to provide these opportunities. At our RUSA Board meeting at Midwinter, the Board approved continuing the relationship between RUSA and the Smart investing @ your library® program. More information about Smart investing @ your library® can be found at For more information on the FINRA Foundation and access to a variety of useful tools for working with investors, see

The Smart investing @ your library® program is just one of the many ways that RUSA provides resources and information to librarians and then to our users. This sort of commitment to working collaboratively to serve our users is a hallmark of RUSA members and one of the things that will carry us forward in the profession, whatever sort of library we work in.

Barry Trott
RUSA President 2010-11